Phyllis: February is the month of valentines and lovers, and we spent a day (through his books) with someone we love: Arnold Lobel.
He wrote easy reader stories that help children crack the code of reading, give them fun stories with characters who remind us of people we know and that give readers of all ages plenty to think about.… more
This month, Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Phyllis Root, the usual hosts of this column, have invited Kari Pearson to share her recommendations for funny picture books.
Let’s play a game! It’s called Funny/Not Funny. It goes like this:
Funny: Eating greasy bloaters with cabbage-and-potato sog (see: How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen)
Not Funny: Shoveling gigantic snowdrifts out of my driveway into piles almost as tall as myself.… more
Phyllis: The first real snow has fallen overnight, and the quality of light when I wake up is luminous outside the window. Solstice approaches, and we’ve turned our thoughts to books about winter and snow. So many to choose from! Here are a few.
When my grown daughter saw a copy of Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton on my bookshelf, she cried, “Oh!… more
Jackie: This is gratitude season and that is a good reminder. Many of us have plenty to be grateful for and we often forget that while waiting for the next good things. It’s also Pie Season. It is the one time of the year at my house when we have no holds barred on pie. Everyone gets to have a favorite at Thanksgiving.… more
*Even though kindle means cats born in the same litter, the alliteration was hard to resist.“All my work is done in the company of cats,” writes Nicola Bayley, wonderful picture book artist and writer, in her book The Necessary Cat.
I know what she means. Right now my cat Luna is sitting on the open copy of The Kittens’ ABC, clearly a cat of discerning literary taste.… more
It’s good to be back on this blog this month. We took a necessary break, but cannot be away from talking about books for too long. The pressure builds…
Phyllis is busy writing in the North Woods, so I am bee-side myself with enthusiasm for doing this blog.
We have a make-shift birdbath on our deck, next to our hummingbird and oriole feeders, and this summer the bees have found the bird bath.… more
Jackie: Recently Phyllis and I read a heart-breaking column in The New YorkTimes, written by author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who wrote many children’s books, and a couple of books for adults.
The column, written as a love-note to her husband from a dying wife, was heartfelt, sad, and funny all at the same time.… more
Jackie: It seems perfectly appropriate that the Manager of Holiday Placement has placed Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love and affection, right in the middle of cold, dark February. I want that celebration to spread out for the whole month (why not the whole year?) the way the smell of baking bread fills an entire house, not just the kitchen.… more
Phyllis:Night means many things: the terrifying darkness behind the garage where I had to carry the garbage after supper as a child, the dark night of the soul that depression brings, the hours between sunset and sunrise that grow longer and longer as our earth turns into winter. But night holds comfort as well as fear, and this month we want to look at books about the gifts that night and darkness can bring.… more
Jackie: After Phyllis and I read Amos and Boris for our last month’s article on boats we both wondered why we hadn’t looked at the work of William Steig. He so often executes that very satisfying combination of humor and heart. Steig’s language is funny but his stories regularly involve worrisome separation and then return to a loving family.… more
Phyllis: This summer I had the opportunity to sail for a week in Lake Superior, so we are turning our thoughts to books about the sea (including the great inland sea that borders Minnesota, so vast it makes its own weather). If we can’t go sailing right now, we can at least read about it in a fleet of good picture books.… more
Jackie: Phyllis, the zucchini seeds you gave me have grown into a plant that knocked on our back door this morning. I gave it coffee and it retreated to the yard, heading toward the alley.
When I was a kid one of my favorite stories was the tall tale of Paul Bunyan. I laughed at the exaggeration, the total wackiness of an ox so large his footprints made the Great Lakes.… more
Phyllis: Tomi Ungerer has written and illustrated over 30 books for children, along with over 100 other books. I didn’t know much about him until Jackie suggested we do a blog on him, and I’m so glad she did. I came home from the library with a stack of his books, which range widely from the ridiculous to the mysterious.… more
Jackie: At last — we made it to spring and all the usual accoutrements have shown up — lilacs, violets, the smell of apple blossoms, and thoughts of sprouting seeds and growing vegetables. How could we not look at picture books about gardens and farming this month?
I have to confess, Phyllis, I did not know of Miss Jaster’s Garden, written and illustrated by N.… more
Phyllis:Each year, as soon as the snow melts, I’m eager to go search for native wildflowers. Two of the earliest flowers bloom in two different protected places a car ride away. And every year, I go too early — either the ephemeral snow trilliums aren’t even up yet or the pasque flowers are still such tiny, tight, furry brown buds that they’re hard to spot in the dried grass on the hillside where they grow.… more